Lack of Customer Service is a Critical Broken Window in Business

Michael Levine

A “broken window” in a business could be any flaw that is real or perceived by a customer. It could be paint peeling from the walls, an unclean bathroom, or a messy condiment section. But, one of the most significant broken windows in business are the employees.

Every employee is going to make a mistake at some point – it is human nature. Employees who learn from their mistakes and become better at their jobs as a result are the best employees to have. But unfortunately, not all employees do this and no matter how devastating it may be to the manager, the only way to make sure the mistake does not recur is to fire the employee. However, this doesn’t always happen.

Instead, the system institutes what some people call the dance of the lemons, moving incompetent workers from one job to the other, losing none of them. This is an even worse scenario because now the worst employees are working in multiple departments.

It is an example of the lax, laissez-faire attitude that has infected American businesses in the area of customer service. Much of it traces back to incomplete training, mainly failing to train employees in how to have impeccable customer service.

Here are the most important concepts in employee training: 1. Customer service. 2. Customer service. 3. Customer service. 4. Employee motivation. 5. Advancement for excellent performance. 7. See 1, 2, and 3. Customer service is what sets a business apart. It creates customer loyalty, and a steady stream of revenue for the business.

But what makes employees, especially ones working minimum wage, motivated to provide top-tier customer service? Employees should know, not just from the corporate statements but through examples they can see in their own outlets, that excellent performance will be rewarded with advancement and salary… They should also know that punishment will be the result of poor performance, and that after a certain number of warnings, they will be terminated.

This structuring would not allow for distracted, indifferent, and especially not rude employees – but they should also offer incentive so that employees have a reason to not be distracted or indifferent. The customer will go somewhere else if they notice a broken window, and much of the time the broken window is how they were treated while they were there.
As a consumer, you should do exactly that. You should patronize only those businesses you think exhibit the attitude and priorities you feel are important. If you, as a business owner, are not paying attention to that kind of broken window, the kind that walks in and punches the time clock every morning, you are inviting disaster.

Every employee, from the newest hire on the counter to the CEO, must be accountable, and the person to whom they are all accountable to is the customer. There is no higher authority. This mindset could completely change the way businesses are conducted. Somewhere along the way, priorities got lost. But this mindset of motivating employees with pay raises, providing exceptional customer service, and the customer being the highest authority, will repair the broken windows.


Michael Levine for consideration - May 28About the Author: He has represented a record-breaking 58 Academy Award winners, 34 Grammy Award winners, 43 New York Times best-sellers. He has authored 19 books, including 5 best-sellers, “Broken Windows, Broken Business” (Warner Books) and “Guerrilla P.R.” (HarperCollins Publisher). He has appeared on countless TV shows as a media expert including regular slots on “Good Morning America” and the “Today” show for the last 20 years. Born with dyslexia, Levine is currently the only person in the world, without ever attending college (merely a high school diploma), to lecture at both Harvard and Oxford University.